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What books did you read in 2021?


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1. The First Fifteen Live of Harry August by Claire North

I've posted about this book before so I won't say too much about it here. I love it so much that I ordered a 2nd hand Hardback version, just so I could have a physical copy.
 

Harry August is born, lives a relatively uneventful life and dies an old man. Whereupon he wakes up, as a newborn baby, on the day of his birth, but with his previous life memories intact. The book explores how Harry comes to adjust to his life as an Orborouan whilst dealing with messages that are being passed down, child to dying person, from the future: "The world is ending and it's speeding up."

A fantastic book that I cannot recommend highly enough.
 

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2 hours ago, Glasgowchivas said:

1. The First Fifteen Live of Harry August by Claire North

I've posted about this book before so I won't say too much about it here. I love it so much that I ordered a 2nd hand Hardback version, just so I could have a physical copy.
 

Harry August is born, lives a relatively uneventful life and dies an old man. Whereupon he wakes up, as a newborn baby, on the day of his birth, but with his previous life memories intact. The book explores how Harry comes to adjust to his life as an Orborouan whilst dealing with messages that are being passed down, child to dying person, from the future: "The world is ending and it's speeding up."

A fantastic book that I cannot recommend highly enough.
 

 

I read this previously on your recommendation. I thought it was great. 

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4. Star Wars: Shadow Fall - Alexander Freed

 

Reviewed in the Star Wars New Canon thread.

 

Spoiler

1. Circe - Madeline Miller

2. Star Wars: The Destiny Path - Charles Soule & Jesus Saiz (graphic novel)

3. Darth Vader: Dark Heart of the Sith - Greg Pak & Raffaele Ienco (graphic novel)

4. Star Wars: Shadow Fall - Alexander Freed

 

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02. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle - I binned the tedious murder mystery book and read this, and I'm so glad I did. This was pure, undiluted joy from beginning to end. I've not seen the film so my mind was free to fill the characters in for itself. Laugh-out-loud funny, great characters, ands brilliantly. Fantastic.

 

Spoiler

 

01. Timescape by Gregory Benford

02. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle

 

 

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The Troy trilogy by David Gemmell.  I haven't read any books by Gemmell since Legend decades ago, but I really enjoyed this epic and how he subtly changed some of the established "facts" of the Trojan war.   

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale.. The blurb said a mixture of Tom sawyer and a Coen movie and that about nails it.  A late western about a boy and his ragtag posses' mission to rescue his kidnapped sister.  It is full of smart dialogue and memorable characters ( a gunslinging, philosophical dwarf). Absolutely recommended. 

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2. Believe Me by JP Delaney

 

Really enjoyed "The Girl Before" - one of those books I read in a couple of sittings on holiday but this didn't grab me in the same way. It was okay I guess but the writing not as good as TGB. In the acknowledgements he mentions it is a rewrite of a book he wrote when he was first starting out which might explain it.

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

 

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03. From Elephant To Hollywood by Michael Caine

Got this in a sale on Audible, the man himself reads it, there are times when he'll crack up at the recollection of some story, the producers wisely keeping that in. Some decent stories although he does tend to gloss over the bad films. There is some tedium here, endless chat about this restaurant or nightspot or other, dinner parties with his Hollywood neighbours and the lists of stars who attended, "I was walking through central London and bumped into [insert famous actor here]" anecdotes. Largely though there was enough entertaining stories to make it worthwhile. This was recorded in 2010 when he was 77. Still going strong today. 

 

Spoiler

 

01. Timescape by Gregory Benford

02. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle

03. From Elephant To Hollywood by Michael Caine

 

 

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7. Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut. I loved Breakfast of Champions which I read recently. While this is also enjoyable to read, I don't think it's in the same league. I also got to the end and realised I didn't really understand what it was about. Possibly my fault I guess.


8. Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Previously seen the film but never read the book. I have no interest in baseball, but I loved it.


9. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. It's impressive that a book written 60 years ago can still shock, but I found the subject matter and characters so unpleasant that I just didn't enjoy this very much.

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. Piranesi

2. The Devil and the Dark Water

3. I Love the Bones of You

4. Feral

5. Melmoth

6. The Beekeeper of Aleppo

7. Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut
8. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
9. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

 

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04. The Assault On Truth by Peter Oborne  - the former Daily Mail columnist goes right for the jugular in this short book, really laying in to the culture of lies and deception that he feels has taken over politics. The Guardian reviewed the book and pointed out how much of a cheerleader Oborne was for Johnson and Trump in 2016, and I agree there isn't much in the way of soul-searching on his part, but he does admit his career as a mainstream political journalist in the UK is in tatters because he has pursued this line about Tory fibs. 

 

Spoiler

 

01. Timescape by Gregory Benford

02. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle

03. From Elephant To Hollywood by Michael Caine

04. The Assault On Truth by Peter Oborne 

 

 

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Looking to read at least 40 books this year. First 4 down:-

 

1. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. 

This is great. Grim and grubby throughout but evokes a sense of wonder of what it would be like to live in Paris and London at the times. There's a wonderful sense of humanity that runs throughout it as Orwell empathises with those working in poorly paid roles and revels in the moments of luxury such as having some cheese with the old loaf he picks up. Totally recommended. 

 

2. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam.

Really disliked this. Characters were deeply unlikeable and I couldn't bring myself to care about them. And they seemed to make some really stupid decisions throughout. And some of the writing, yelp. "His penis jerked itself towards the sun, a yoga salutation, bouncing, then stiff at the house's allure". Add to that a 2 page breakdown of what was bought at a supermarket. Self indulgent twaddle. 

 

3. Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The world building in this is wonderful. Sometime in the future the world is irretrievably broken and only one city is left standing. This plays no real part for the vast majority of the novel, where the protagonist is imprisoned in a floating prison, surrounded by twisted natural forms that have mutated with the world's transformation. It's as much about the cage behind the prison as it is the cage in which he is trapped. There are a number of other locations that are equally well-developed and there's a real sense of an uneasy familiarity to a very other-worldy novel. There's one section where he lives in the underworld of the city which is great and really atmospheric. He's a cracking writer. 

 

4. Doggerland by Ben Smith. 

Two characters maintain a vast field of turbines following some cataclysmic event that befalls Britain (and the world?), which is neither Brexit nor COVID. It's unrelentingly bleak and I found it a pretty dull dystopian tale. Comparisons to The Road are way off, it's more of a Cul-de-sac. 

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1. The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman

 

Apparently this is quite popular... Was bought it for Christmas and thought it would make a nice easy read to get back into a more regular reading habit. Absolutely is an easy read but I was willing it to end long before the clumsy finish. Lovely central concept but found the characters too cookie cutter and the actual story contrived and amateurishly told. Some parts felt quite snobbish to be honest. Some mildly amusing lines, but very little flair to the writing.

 

Think the eventual film will actually be a lot more enjoyable because a lot of the faff will be trimmed out.

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On 27/01/2021 at 14:39, Glasgowchivas said:

1. The First Fifteen Live of Harry August by Claire North

I've posted about this book before so I won't say too much about it here. I love it so much that I ordered a 2nd hand Hardback version, just so I could have a physical copy.
 

Harry August is born, lives a relatively uneventful life and dies an old man. Whereupon he wakes up, as a newborn baby, on the day of his birth, but with his previous life memories intact. The book explores how Harry comes to adjust to his life as an Orborouan whilst dealing with messages that are being passed down, child to dying person, from the future: "The world is ending and it's speeding up."

A fantastic book that I cannot recommend highly enough.
 

After reading this I had an urge to revisit some classic crime writing and so ventured up to the loft to dig out my faves...only to find that in the last house move it would appear that I left them behind! :-(

So some £100+ lighter and with many, many orders via AbesBooks...


2. The Hunter 
3. The Man with the Getaway Face

4. The Outfit
5. The Mourner

6. The Score

7. The Jugger

8. The Seventh

9. The Handle

10. The Rare Coin Score

11. The Green Eagle Score

12. The Black Ice Score

13. The Sour Lemon Score

14. Deadly Edge

15. Slayground

16. Plunder Squad

17. Butchers Moon

This is the Parker series from Richard Stark - the first series, after Butchers Moon there was no new Parker books for 25years - and I think it's my favourite series of fiction ever.
 

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Darktown by Thomas Mullen. 

A fairly standard police procedural novel enlivened by its setting.  1948 Atlanta and the first seven black police officers are hired to bring order to "their" part of town, even whilst not even being allowed in the whites only police precinct and having no power of arrest of white people.  Its the first of three books and has enough to make me look forward to the next one. 

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3. The Secret Barrister by Anon

 

Bought this on a whim in Waterstones but proved to be a fascinating book. After reading it you are amazed we ever convict anyone of anything. Particularly interesting for me as the Crown Prosecution Service are one of my customers.

 

Previously:

Spoiler

1. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

2. Believe Me by JP Delaney 

 

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The 5th Season - N.K Jemison

 

1st in  a trilogy set in the far future/fantasy where a mother sets out looking for her kidnapped daughter after a cataclysmic event. It and the two sequels won Hugo and Nebula awards when they were released AFAIK. Goes  to some very dark places and is generally pretty decent overall.

 

All you need is kill/Edge of tomorrow/Live,Die, Repeat

 

The Manga the Tom Cruise  movie is based on which I watched again on Sunday- it's excellent for most of it's runtime.The manga it's based on is also excellent  though a little bit different. Its far more melancholy  as we see the affects of the loops more often and has more time to flesh out the two protagonists  much better.Definitely  recommended. Just to not my e-reader (Kobo) pushed this out right-to-left  so it took me a bit of adjusting to get used to it. Interesting experience though.

 

Previously

Spoiler

Best Served Cold- Joe Abercromie

Ancilliary Justice- Ann Leckie

 

 

 

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4. The Sentinel by Lee and Andrew Child

 

Raced through this - genuine comfort reading. This is the first one Lee has co-written with his younger brother Andrew as he plans to hand the reins over. No major differences - maybe a little more technology involved than in previous books.

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

2. Believe Me by JP Delaney

3. The Secret Barrister by Anon

 

 

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1. Cibola Burn by James S A Corey

 

Book 4 of the Expanse - and now I'm starting to see a pattern emerging.  Start slowly, introduce new characters to the fold before building to a frantic finale that opens up even more possibilities for future instalments.

 

This is such a good series - even though I didn't enjoy this as much as Abaddon's Gate, it's not far off.  Looking forward to book 5 which is ready to go as soon as it's unboxed in our new house (could be months away then....)

 

4/5

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5. Heartburn by Nora Ephron

 

Someone recommended this when my second marriage broke down and it has been sat in the pile for a while. It's a relatively short, thinly-veiled novel about Nora finding out her husband was having an affair with a very tall woman when she was seven months pregnant. It's both heart-breaking and laugh out loud funny - recommended.

 

Previously:

 

Spoiler

1. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

2. Believe Me by JP Delaney

3. The Secret Barrister by Anon

4. The Sentinel by Lee and Andrew Child

 

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5. The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.

It's a story about multiverses and initially delivers; really engaging and interesting premise as the protagonist has the job to flit between various versions of the Earth, interacting with various versions of herself and her acquaintances. In some worlds these acquaintances are good in others they're not so pleasant. I really enjoyed it until about 40% of the way through and then it became quite dull, with some flimsy internal logic and character behaviour that just seemed out of kilter with what went before. 

 

Now reading the Bellingcat book, which is really interesting but just throws names, places, events etc. at you with a fierce intensity. Not one to read to switch off to or read before bed..

 

Previously:

Spoiler

 

1. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. 

2. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam.

3. Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

4. Doggerland by Ben Smith. 

 

 

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Spoiler

1. Cibola Burn by James S A Corey - 4/5

 

2. How Not To Be a Professional Football by Paul Merson

 

I only paid a pound for this in a Kindle sale and it's really not worth that much.  The reason - Paul Merson is a prick.  This book has anecdote after anecdote from his life as a professional, but there are 2 glaring issues with them.  1.  It's so incredibly badly written and 2. there's no hint of remorse or guilt whatsoever.  Some of the pranks he played, and some of the strops he had over not being selected etc etc are so puerile and in some cases just downright nasty but it's all 'bantz' innit.

 

I like to read these kind of books to see how these ex pros managed to turn their lives around despite struggling with fame, pressure or in Merson's case a dangerous combination of alcohol, drug and gambling addiction.  By the end of this, I wasn't really bothered because Merson seems too concerned with the 'hilarious' pranks he played on people, or the amazing fun he had during his more hedonistic period.  His annoying cockney rhyming slang is littered throughout - there's even an attached glossary.  Yawn.

 

Wasn't massively keen on the guy before reading this - dislike him even more now.  I wouldn't bother reading this sensationalist nonsense.

 

1.5/5

 

3. The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor

 

I also picked this up in a 99p Kindle deal - I remember this author being interviewed in the excellent BBC series about Auschwitz.  Her account is absolutely heartbreaking - along with her identical twin sister, Miriam, she was separated from the rest of her family at the gates of Auschwitz by Dr Josef Mengele, purely because he wanted to use their for his barbaric experiments on twins.  She never saw the rest of her family again, and somehow both her and her twin sister managed to survive the horrors of the camp - they were ten years old, were experimented on by Mengele, the unknown consequences of which led to her sister's death in the 1990s.  

 

Despite these horrors, Mrs Kor was able to forgive the Nazis and spent the latter part of her life campaigning for awareness of the Holocaust.  She was a remarkable woman, stoic from a very young age which was a key factor in her getting through such an ordeal.

 

I cannot imagine what horrors they went through - my daughter is 10, and reading Mrs Kor's account made my blood run cold.

 

It's a harrowing but excellent account.

 

4/5

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